USCIS Strengthens Protections to Combat H-1B Abuses

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Clarifies Policy on Requirements for Third-Party Worksite H-1B Petitions

WASHINGTON—The H-1B visa program generally allows a foreign employee to work for a specific sponsoring American employer. As is true in many employment situations, the location of work can change. USCIS has published a policy memorandum (PDF, 119 KB) making clear that USCIS may request detailed documentation to ensure a legitimate employer-employee relationship is maintained while an employee is working at a third-party worksite.

In publishing this policy, USCIS clarifies existing regulatory requirements relating to H-1B petitions filed for workers who will be employed at one or more third-party worksites. This policy memorandum makes clear that employers must provide contracts and itineraries for employees who will work at a third-party location.    

The guidance, effective Feb. 22, 2018, explains that, in order for an H-1B petition involving a third-party worksite to be approved, the petitioner must show by a preponderance of evidence that, among other things:

  • The beneficiary will be employed in a specialty occupation; and
  • The employer will maintain an employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary for the duration of the requested validity period.

When H-1B beneficiaries are placed at third-party worksites, petitioners must demonstrate that they have specific and non-speculative qualifying assignments in a specialty occupation for that beneficiary for the entire time requested on the petition. While an H-1B petition may be approved for up to three years, USCIS will, in its discretion, generally limit the approval period to the length of time demonstrated that the beneficiary will be placed in non-speculative work and during which the petitioner will maintain the requisite employer-employee relationship.

The updated policy guidance aligns with President Trump’s Buy American and Hire American Executive Order and the directive to protect the interests of U.S. workers. Employment-based petitioners who circumvent the worker protections outlined in the nation’s immigration laws not only injure U.S. workers (e.g., their wages and job opportunities), but also the foreign workers for whom they are petitioning.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).

 

– USCIS –

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USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna on New Agency Mission Statement

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“In my short time as director of USCIS, I continue to be impressed by the commitment and dedication that employees throughout the agency have shown toward our common goals. USCIS employees are passionate about upholding the rule of law and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system. I’ve always known this and have seen it confirmed again and again in my meetings with you during visits I have made to field offices and service centers. To reflect these principles, and to guide us in the years ahead, I am pleased to share with you our agency’s new mission statement:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.

I believe this simple, straightforward statement clearly defines the agency’s role in our country’s lawful immigration system and the commitment we have to the American people.

The American people, through Congress, have entrusted USCIS with the stewardship of our legal immigration programs that allow foreign nationals to visit, work, live, and seek refuge in the United States. We are also responsible for ensuring that those who naturalize are dedicated to this country, share our values, assimilate into our communities, and understand their responsibility to help preserve our freedom and liberty.

What we do at USCIS is so important to our nation, so meaningful to the applicants and petitioners, and the nature of the work is often so complicated, that we should never allow our work to be regarded as a mere production line or even described in business or commercial terms. In particular, referring to applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits, and the beneficiaries of such applications and petitions, as “customers” promotes an institutional culture that emphasizes the ultimate satisfaction of applicants and petitioners, rather than the correct adjudication of such applications and petitions according to the law. Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve. All applicants and petitioners should, of course, always be treated with the greatest respect and courtesy, but we can’t forget that we serve the American people.

USCIS employees take pride in helping prospective immigrants who desire to be part of our country, but they are also dedicated to ensuring we have an immigration system of which we can be proud. We answer to the American people who look to us to ensure that people who are eligible for immigration benefits receive them and those who are not eligible – either because they don’t qualify or because they attempt to qualify by fraud – don’t receive them, and that those who would do us harm are not granted immigration benefits. Thus, as we begin our work under the banner of our new mission statement, we will also go forward by ending use of the term “customer” as an agency when referring to applicants or petitioners – a reminder that we are always working for the American people.   

It is a pleasure serving with you as we continue to faithfully administer and protect the integrity of our nation’s lawful immigration system.”

– USCIS –

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Update to Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition, New Edition Dated 11/01/17

Purpose of Form

Use this form to request further action on a previously approved application or petition.

Number of Pages

Form 7; instructions 10.

Edition Date

11/01/17. Starting 04/23/2018, we will only accept the 11/01/17 edition.  Until then, you can use the 12/23/16 edition. You can find the edition date at the bottom of the page on the form and instructions.

Where to File

For applicants filing with USCIS:

  • File this form with the correct USCIS Lockbox facility. You can find a complete list of filing addresses on our website. Exception: If you are filing Form I-824 with another USCIS form, mail your Form I-824 according to the filing instructions of the other form.
  • Read important filing tips, and additional information on our Lockbox Filing Tips webpage.
  • We will not process Form I-824 if your petition or application is still pending or has been denied.
  • Do not use this form to verify the status of a pending petition or application.

For applicants filing with CBP:

  • File this form at a designated CBP land border port of entry, a CBP preclearance office listed at cbp.gov, or it mail to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Admissibility Review Office, at the address specified on the CBP website.

Filing Tips for Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition

Complete all sections of the form. We will reject the form if these fields are missing:

  • Part 3 – Other Information
    • Receipt Number (on Form I-797, Notice of Action)

Don’t forget to sign your form! We will reject any unsigned form.

Filing Fee

Special Instructions

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Update to Form I-817, Application for Family Unity Benefits, New Edition Dated 11/07/17

Purpose of Form

Use this form to request initial benefits under the Family Unity Program, or to request an extension of such benefits.

Number of Pages

Form 12; instructions 14.

Edition Date

11/07/17. Starting 04/23/2018, we will only accept the 11/07/17 edition.  Until then, you can use the 12/23/16 edition. You can find the edition date at the bottom of the page on the form and instructions.

Where to File

Please read the filing instructions carefully. See the section titled Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-817, Application for Family Unity Benefits.

If you are filing with a USCIS Lockbox facility, you can find important filing tips, as well as additional information on fees and customer service, at on our lockbox filing tips webpage.

Filing Tips for Form I-817, Application for Family Unity Benefits
 
Complete all sections of the form. We will reject the form if these fields are missing:

  • Part 1. Information About You
    • Family Name
    • Date of Birth
    • U.S. Mailing Address
  • Part 3. Information About Your Relationship
    • Information About your Spouse or Parent – Family Name
    • Information About Your Spouse or Parent – Date of Birth

Don’t forget to sign your form! We will reject any unsigned form.

Filing Fee

$600. (An $85 biometric services fee is required for each applicant 14 years of age or older.) You may pay the fee with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Special Instructions

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USCIS Finalizes Guidance on Signature Requirements

Release Date:

WASHINGTON —U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that petitioners and applicants who seek immigration benefits must provide a valid signature on forms submitted to the agency. In an effort to protect and safeguard the nation’s immigration system and those who benefit from it, power of attorney signatures will no longer be accepted. If forms are filed by a corporation or other legal entity, they must be signed by an authorized person. The new policy is effective March 18, 2018.

This final policy memorandum (PDF, 87 KB) updates an interim memorandum (PDF, 1.49 MB) that outlined the elements of a valid signature and permitted entities that filed petitions with USCIS to use the signature of an individual based on a power of attorney. Because of concerns about consistency and program integrity, USCIS reversed the interim memorandum’s policy on power of attorney signatures. 

The prohibition on power of attorney signatures does not affect signatures on behalf of individuals younger than age 14 or those with disabilities. The final memorandum makes additional changes such as providing that an authorized signatory must be employed by the petitioner and that USCIS may reject a form submitted with a faulty signature instead of offering the opportunity to fix the deficiency.  

USCIS will publish revised instructions for individual forms to clearly specify the applicable signature requirements. USCIS will also address requirements for electronic signatures in future guidance.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook(/uscis).

-USCIS-

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Department of Justice Files Complaint to Denaturalize Diversity Visa Recipient Who Obtained Naturalized Citizenship After Failing to Disclose Two Prior Orders of Removal

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WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice yesterday filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Michigan to revoke the naturalized U.S. citizenship of Humayun Kabir Rahman fka Md Humayun Kabir Talukder aka Ganu Miah aka Shafi Uddin. The case was referred to the Department of Justice by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and identified as a part of Operation Janus (PDF).

The complaint alleges Humayun Kabir Rahman arrived in the United States in February 1992 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, claiming his true name was Ganu Miah while in possession of a passport that did not belong to him. He was paroled into the United States so he could seek asylum, and his application was referred to the immigration court where an immigration judge ordered him removed in 1998. In 1994, while Ganu Miah’s proceeding was underway, Rahman sought asylum under a different name, Shafi Uddin. That application was also referred to the immigration court, and he was ordered to be removed in 1997. Later in 1997, using his third identity, Md Humayun Kabir Talukder, Rahman applied for and received an immigrant visa through the diversity visa program, claiming he had entered the United States by car from Canada. In 2004, he applied for and was granted permanent resident status, which he ultimately used to become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2004. Throughout his immigration and naturalization proceedings, Rahman concealed that he had twice been ordered removed and lied about his identity and immigration history under oath. Rahman was also never lawfully admitted to the permanent resident status upon which he naturalized.

“As our country’s leaders debate the future of our immigration system, this alleged case of a decade of defrauding the United States to obtain citizenship is particularly alarming,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “In this instance, the suspect allegedly lied to the government as he twice sought to secure asylum under different identities, but was rebuffed and ordered removed both times before being randomly selected for a diversity visa.  While the United States Senate assesses whether to continue the diversity visa program, the Justice Department will find the program’s fraudsters and hold them to account, to protect our national security.”

“This case illustrates the kind of fraud that we have discovered, and I hope today’s announcement sends a clear message that attempting to fraudulently obtain U.S. citizenship will not be tolerated,” USCIS Director Francis Cissna said in a statement. “We are grateful to our partners who are working to bring these cases to justice and protect the integrity of our immigration system.”

This case was investigated by USCIS and the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation, District Court Section (OIL-DCS). The case is being prosecuted by OIL-DCS’s National Security and Affirmative Litigation Unit (NS/A Unit), with support from USCIS Office of the Chief Counsel, Central Law Division.

The claims made in the complaint are allegations only, and there have been no determinations of liability.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook(/uscis).

-USCIS-

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February 2018 Preliminary Injunction on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

The scope of the preliminary injunction issued on February 13, 2018 in the Eastern District of New York is the same as the preliminary injunction issued on January 9, 2018 in the Northern District of California.  Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this web guidance, the DACA policy will continue to be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.  As explained in that guidance, USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA.

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USCIS Expands Credit Card Payment Option for Fees

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it will now accept credit card payments for filing most of its forms.

The new payment option is available for the 41 fee-based forms processed at USCIS Lockbox facilities. To pay by Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover, applicants will need to use Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transaction (PDF, 252 KB)s.

USCIS will enter credit card data into the Pay.gov system, operated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and will then destroy the Form G-1450 to protect the credit card information.

Applicants for naturalization and those renewing or replacing their Green Cards can already use a credit card when they file online at uscis.gov. In addition, USCIS has been accepting credit card payments for naturalization forms filed at Lockbox facilities since 2015.

Current versions of all USCIS forms are available free at uscis.gov/forms. Learn more about USCIS resources at uscis.gov/tools.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook(/uscis).

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Three Individuals Indicted for Visa Fraud Scheme for Profit

Release Date:

USCIS Assisted in Investigation of Defendants who Provided Armenian Nationals with Fake Dance Certificates and Staged Photos in Traditional Costumes to Qualify for P-3 Visa Program for Entertainers

NEW YORK – A 15-count indictment was unsealed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn charging Stella Boyadjian, Hrachya Atoyan and Diana Grigoryan, also known as “Dina Akopovna,” for their roles in a multi-year visa fraud scheme that brought Armenian citizens into the United States for profit. The defendants are charged with multiple counts of visa fraud and with conspiring to defraud the United States, commit visa fraud and illegally bring aliens into the United States. Boyadjian and Grigoryan are also charged with related money laundering charges, and Boyadjian is charged with aggravated identity theft. Boyadjian was arraigned yesterday before United States Magistrate Judge James Orenstein. Atoyan’s initial appearance for removal proceedings to the Eastern District of New York was scheduled for Thursday, in the Central District of California.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, John P. Cronan, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the United States Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Christian J. Schurman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security and Director for Diplomatic Security Service, United States Department of State, announced the charges.

“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants choreographed their fraud scheme by dressing visa applicants in traditional dance costumes and creating fake concert flyers in order to deceive a government program that allows foreign nationals to temporarily enter the United States as artistic performers,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “As a result of outstanding investigative work and commitment to protecting the integrity of the immigration process by this Office and our law enforcement partners, the defendants will now face the music for their alleged crimes.”

“Fighting fraud and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system are major priorities for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  This case demonstrates the lengths that fraudsters will go to try to evade our nation’s immigration laws…and it demonstrates the lengths we’ll go to stop them to protect national security and the American people,” said Thomas M. Cioppa, New York District Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration  Services.

“Fraudsters who undermine our immigration system threaten our public safety and our national security,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan. “The Justice Department will not tolerate abuses of our nation’s immigration laws like those alleged in the indictment unsealed today. We will root out immigration fraud and bring those responsible to justice.”

“The Diplomatic Security Service is firmly committed to protecting the integrity of all U.S. visas and travel documents – especially those, like the P-3 visa, which allow for entertainers to visit the U.S. to perform in culturally unique events and deepen our understanding of different cultures,” stated Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Schurman. “This case is the result of a strong partnership among federal law enforcement agencies and DSS’ global network of special agents working together to stop visa and passport crimes and stop criminals from earning illegal income by exploiting U.S. visas, passports, and foreign workers.”

As alleged in the indictment, the defendants were engaged in a widespread visa fraud scheme to illegally bring foreign nationals (“Aliens”) into the United States by fraudulently claiming to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) that they were members of traditional Armenian performance groups and thus qualified for P-3 visas as “culturally unique” artists or entertainers.

The P-3 nonimmigrant visa classification allows foreign nationals to temporarily travel to the United States to perform, teach or coach as artists or entertainers, under a program that is culturally unique. A United States employer or sponsoring organization is required to submit a USCIS Form I-129 Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker, along with supporting documentation, attesting that the performances in the United States are culturally unique.

As alleged in the indictment, Boyadjian ran a non-profit organization called Big Apple Music Awards Foundation Inc. (“BAMA”), based in Rego Park, New York, which she and her co-conspirators used to further their visa fraud scheme. As part of the scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators solicited Aliens and charged them fees ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 per Alien applicant to fraudulently obtain P-3 visas by submitting false Forms I-129 and supporting documents to the USCIS. Upon approval of the Form I-129 petitions, the defendants and their co-conspirators acquired fraudulent dance certificates and organized staged photo sessions where foreign nationals wore Armenian dance costumes to make it appear as though they were traditional Armenian musicians, singers and performers. After being trained how to falsely answer questions during visa interviews, the P-3 visa applicants presented these fake certificates and photos during their P-3 visa interviews. Once in the United States, some beneficiaries of the P-3 visas paid the defendants an additional fee to be included in applications for extensions of their fraudulently obtained visas. The defendants furthered their visa fraud scheme by creating flyers and other documents purporting to hold BAMA-sponsored concerts and events in the United States.

The charges announced today are merely allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is a joint investigation by the Diplomatic Security Service’s Criminal Investigations Division and Overseas Criminal Investigations Divisions, with assistance from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Gopstein and Trial Attorney Sasha N. Rutizer of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.

The Defendants:

STELLA BOYADJIAN
Age: 47
Rego Park, New York

HRACHYA ATOYAN
Age: 30
Glendale, California

DIANA GRIGORYAN (also known as “Dina Akopovna”)
Age: 41
Yerevan, Armenia

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-57 (MKB)

Contact:

John Marzulli or Tyler Daniels United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323

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